JULY 14, 2015
A long, long time ago when mosquito repellant was gathering dust on the shelf, when going outside included deciding what sweater or jacket to wear, and there were more cowboy hats being worn than sweat bands, an actor/chef and his camera crew from New York showed up in Houston wanting to eat. And not just plain, ordinary eating but eat on the midway where food choices are a little crazy. His destination was the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and it actually wasn’t that long ago. Just three and a half months, actually. The date was March 16. The actor/chef was Noah Cappe, and the film crew was taping shows for the second season of Cooking Channel’s “Carnival Eats.” One of the places they visited that day was Berryhill Baja Grill’s giant midway booth, scarfing down tamales and talking the history behind this Houston-based chain. Now, at 9 p.m. on Thursday, July 16, the show taped in Houston will debut during the premier of “Carnival Eats’” second season, and Berryhill is throwing a watch party at its West University location at 5110 Buffalo Speedway. From 8-10 p.m. the restaurant will be offering $4 Margaritas, $1 spinach and corn tamales (featured on the show), and $2.50 on the Sunny Side Taco, the July Taco of the Month which usually sells for $4.25. “Carnival Eats” is similar to “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives” but rather than visiting restaurants, the crew visits four food vendors at each fair, carnival or similar venue to learn how to make one or two dishes being served. They also highlight fun aspects of each location and get some interaction with visitors to the event. Berryhill and its “Seriously Fresh Mex” food is named after Walter Berryhill, a Native American from Oklahoma who came to Houston in the late 1920s and began selling tamales made from his own special tamale recipe. Berryhill sold tamales to residents of Houston’s most exclusive neighborhoods from an old cart that he pedaled or pushed along the neighborhood streets from the late 1920s until the mid 1960s. He died in the late 1960s and his recipe was lost for more than 20 years. It, his cart and a tamale-making machine he invented were rediscovered in the early 1990s. Several partners opened the first Berryhill restaurant in 1993 selling Berryhill’s famed tamales and a creative array of Baja California style dishes, including the famous Berryhill fish taco. Texas Monthly credits Berryhill as the restaurant that introduced the fish taco to the Texas dining scene. Houston resident Jeff Anon bought Berryhill from the partners and since 1997 has expanded the concept internationally both through franchising and his own stores. There are even franchise locations in Mexico and negotiations are underway to open in Florida. For more information on Berryhill and its locations, visit www.berryhillbajagrill.com.